A Cedar Park man said a selfie saved him from being falsely imprisoned.
21-year-old Cristopher James Precopia was arrested in 2017 after his ex-girlfriend told police he broke into her house, punched her in the face and slashed her with a box cutter. “I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I was just hoping I would die the next day just to stop from everything happening,” CJ said.
Precopia was facing three charges at the time; burglary of a habitation with intent to commit assault, burglary of a habitation with intent to commit another felony and violating a protective order with assault. “And she just framed me for things that could sentence me to life,” said CJ.
He spent the night in the Williamson County Jail until his parents took out loans to cover his $150,000 bond and lawyer fees. “I was thinking, ‘I don't have that cash lying around,’ but you do what you have to do to save your child,” said CJ’s mother, Erin Precopia.
She is still working to pay that money back.
CJ told his lawyer and Temple police he was at the Austin Renaissance Hotel on the night his ex-girlfriend from Cedar Park High School said the attack happened, but he needed proof.
Thanks to his mom, he had it. “Her and I both went to that convention in the Renaissance Hotel and we knew that I was perfectly okay,” CJ said.
“I had a picture. I took a selfie and I posted it on Facebook,” said Erin.
About eight months after turning in the time-stamped, geo-located picture, along with texts, polygraphs, witness statements and receipts to back up his alibi, the District Attorney dropped the case.
Still, CJ's record has yet to be expunged. “It's going to keep him from getting jobs, it's going to keep him from joining the military like he wanted to do, it's going to be out there,” Erin said.
His accuser has not had to face any legal consequences.
“She tried ruining my life for the past four years and this was the final straw. I'm not going to forgive. I want to make sure she gets put behind bars and owes my family back everything,” said CJ.
CJ said he still spends each day looking over his shoulder.
“This was just one false accusation, and she could very well do another one, and be believed like she was before, and I might be thrown in prison. And this time, I might not be so lucky to get out,” CJ said.
Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols said he plans to meet with the accuser Monday to discuss what happened. After that, he will make a decision about whether to file charges against her.
As for the Precopia's, they are working to start a non-profit to help people who have been falsely accused of a crime. There is a GoFundMe set up to help reimburse the Precopia’s for CJ’s legal fees.